Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How A Signaling Molecule Orchestrates Breast Cancer's Spread

Date:
April 7, 2008
Source:
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Summary:
A new study has uncovered how breast tumors use a particular type of molecule to promote metastasis -- the spread of cancer cells. Metastasis is the cause of approximately 90 percent of all cancer-related deaths.

A study led by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) has uncovered how breast tumors use a particular type of molecule to promote metastasis -- the spread of cancer cells. Metastasis is the cause of approximately 90 percent of all cancer-related deaths. The work examines how cells in the body communicate with each other through cytokines, signaling molecules that direct a wide range of activities such as cell growth and movement. One important cytokine -- transforming growth factor -a (TGF-a) -- normally suppresses tumor development. However, according to the findings, cancer cells in humans are able to misuse these cytokines for their own gain by compelling TGF-a to enhance a tumor's ability to spread instead of suppressing it.

Related Articles


Using computer-based analysis to classify patient tumor samples based on their levels of TGF-a, the researchers observed that about half of all breast tumors contained active TGF-a. The affected tumors were found to be more aggressive and more likely to metastasize to the lung during the course of the patients' disease.

Using mice for their next set of experiments, the researchers discovered that TGF-a prompts breast cancer cells to make a second cytokine, known as angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4), which enhances the ability of the cancer to spread to the lungs through the blood circulation. The results show that the breast cancer cells use ANGPTL4 to break down the thin capillaries of the lung, thus facilitating their escape into the lung tissue.

"Our work shows that TGF-a enhances human breast cancer metastasis and reveals how tumor cells learn to exploit cytokines by making them work as a relay system to promote the spread of breast cancer," said the study's senior author, Joan Massague, PhD, Chairman of the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program at MSKCC and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

The researchers are now seeking to determine whether TGF-a and ANGPTL4 may also be active in other types of tumors, and are evaluating ways to interfere with the action of these cytokines to prevent metastasis in cancer patients.

"Deciphering how cancer cells take advantage of these cytokines is essential for developing therapies that can prevent this process," said the study's lead author David Padua, a graduate student in Dr. Massague's lab. "Because cytokines act outside of cells they can be more easily targeted by drugs that block their activity."

The study provides support for developing agents to interfere with TGF-a in order to prevent and treat cancer metastasis. It points at ANGPTL4 as a possible target to interrupt the TGF-a stimulus of metastasis without interfering with the molecule's beneficial effects. Several pharmaceutical companies are currently testing TGF-a-blocking compounds in clinical trials as candidate drugs against breast cancer, melanoma, and other types of cancer.

 The study is published in the April 4, 2008, issue of Cell.

This work was co-authored by Xiang H-F. Zhang and Qiongqing Wang of MSKCC's Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, and William L. Gerald, MD, PhD, a surgical pathologist and member of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at MSKCC. Cristina Nadal, PhD, of the Hospital Clinic-IDIBAPS and Roger R. Gomis, PhD, of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), both of Barcelona, Spain, also contributed to this research.

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Kleberg Foundation, the Hearst Foundation, and the BBVA Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "How A Signaling Molecule Orchestrates Breast Cancer's Spread." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080403131932.htm>.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. (2008, April 7). How A Signaling Molecule Orchestrates Breast Cancer's Spread. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080403131932.htm
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "How A Signaling Molecule Orchestrates Breast Cancer's Spread." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080403131932.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins